Most of you are wondering what the deal about English saddles is. Does it really matter what kind of saddle you get on your horse. If it fits, why bother right? Well probably you’re right, but there are some things different about them.
Every saddle got its purpose. For example, western saddles are like crowd control saddles, while English are more for lords. If you look back in history, all nobles had English saddles. If you look western saddle in history, lower class used them (cowboys, farmers etc…).
More about english saddles. We have around 9 different English saddles. Some are more popular some are less.
English Saddles Types:
- All-purpose or Eventing saddle
- The Jumping saddle
- Dressage saddle
- The Saddle seat saddle
- Endurance saddle
- English showing saddle
- Racing saddle
- Polo saddle
These saddles are used in Olympic and FEI equestrian disciplines. The most popular saddles are Racing, Endurance, Dressage and the Jumping saddle. Each of the saddles are made for their task.
Dressage saddle is made for dressage, while the jumping saddle is made for jumping with horse. If you would use endurance saddle when you are jumping, you would probably hurt yourself and your horse in a long run.
Why to choose between western or english saddle and if you go for English, which style you want to buy? I would suggest that you take endurance one, if you decide for english saddle. This is also competition style. Endurance is about stamina.
When you’re buying saddle, you have to think about it twice. Saddle can make your ride easier and more enjoyable. If you don’t buy the right saddle on the other hand, you only get discomfort and you can hurt your horse and yourself. If you’re an amateur in horse riding, then buy a cheap one. English saddle is not a bad choice for beginners. They are better for learning and getting stability. Go for western once you get some experience.
Parts of the saddle:
Every english saddle have the same, just shapes are changing for each style.
Tree is the mainframe of whole saddle. It’s the carrier construction. Without the tree, saddle is nothing. It’s made of wood or look like wood.
Panels are something like pads between saddle and horses back. Those are normally stuffed with wool or foam flocking. Sometimes they even have sealed air pockets. Each saddle only has two panels (left and right). But each panel is divided by rear and front panel. Front one is smaller and rear one is bigger, because it needs to carry more weight (rider).
Gullets job is to prevent saddle from putting pressure on horses spine (if you have saddle that puts pressure on spine, go and buy new one, as that saddle will hurt your horse). You can see gullet if you turn your saddle around. It is in the middle of saddle between the bars. Gullet keeps space between bars clear.
Seat is where you seat. Deeper the seat, the more secure you feel.
Pommel is on front of saddle, raised higher than seat itself (western got horn on it). Because it’s raised higher, it gives you better security, but it can get very painful for male riders if you miss the seat.
Cantle is the rear part of saddle raised higher than seat for better security.
Waist or Twist:
Is part of a saddle between pommel and seat to provide good resting place for your pelvic bone. The waist size is very important for riders comfort.
Skirt or Jockey:
When you look on side of a saddle, you see two leafs of leather/synthetic goods. The smallest is the skirt. It covers stirrup bar and buckles, so riders leg doesn’t rub into them and unbuckle them by mistake.
The second leather »leaf is the biggest. It has the same task as skirt. Which is to protect riders leg not to rub in billets and girth buckles. How the saddle flap looks like depends on saddles style.
Is the large piece of leather on other side of saddle which you don’t see, unless you turn saddle around. Sweat flap protects horse from girth buckles and saddle of horses sweat and fur.
Billets or points:
Billets or points are straps showing down and they are shorter with only few holes. They are webbed on tree of saddle so you cannot pull them off saddle. Original you get three billets. One is spare, just in case if one gets thorn off.
Girth Buckle Guard:
Name says it all. It’s piece of leather that guards the girth buckle.
You can see it on saddle on sides. It’s additional padding for better leg support, for better grip. You can choose between very wide or thick, very thin or not present at all.
It’s on rear side of sweat flap which lies behind riders thigh. That’s not seen that often. We see this on dressage saddles for better grip and stability.
It’s behind riders low leg. Helps to stabilize and give more grip to rider. This is very rarely seen on saddles at all.
It’s very important part of saddle, where riders feet rest. On stirrup iron you have to stand up if needed. Stirrup is made of three things. Leather, iron and metal bar. Metal bar is where you set length of leather. Iron is where your feet rest.
D-ring or Staple:
Metal rings rounded up on corners of saddle. Their use is to buckle up some equipment or supplies. Some are harder to put away and some are stitched right in saddles tree.
When you are buying saddle, always do it with clear mind and don’t make fast decisions, as they will make you regret everything. Buy the style you use and not the style you like or prefer. Always try to buy leather saddle. Quality is much better and they will last much longer then synthetic ones. Enjoy with your new saddle.